From the list on identity documents in the modern world.
Who am I?
I’m an American intellectual historian and professor at Vanderbilt University. I’ve long been fascinated by the history and politics of data: the question of how publicly available knowledge shapes societies as well as individual selves. It’s led me to research the effects of popular polls and statistics on mid-century U.S. culture and to write about how ever-advancing techniques for “knowing” citizens shaped modern privacy sensibilities. My current obsession is with official identity documents—how they infiltrate people’s lives in ways that are at once bureaucratic and curiously intimate. The books I’ve selected lay bare the promise and the peril of documentation in wonderfully vivid detail.
Sarah's book list on identity documents in the modern world
Discover why each book is one of Sarah's favorite books.
Why did Sarah love this book?
Vargas’s memoir begins, “I do not know where I will be when you read this book.” An undocumented immigrant (and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist) who was brought to the United States from the Philippines as a child, Vargas only learned that he was in the country illegally when he applied for a driver’s license at age 16. In 2011, after two decades in the shadows, Vargas publicly revealed his legal status. His anxious, tireless quest for a driver’s license, like his quest to belong in the only country he knows as home, raises urgent questions about the power of documents and borders to define people’s life chances. I’ve taught this beautifully written book several times and it never fails to move my students – and me.